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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Beltane

Posted by on in Signs & Portents
A Time for Planting

It is Beltane, the Celtic festival of fire and light marking either the midpoint of spring or the beginning of summer! Well known as a time of revelry, Beltane is also a celebration of fertility: both of the kind good for planting crops and the kind good for sowing seeds of another kind. Beltane also corresponds to the Germanic festivals Walpurgisnacht as well as International Workers’ Day (aka May Day). And, of course, if you’re on the bottom side of the world it’s the opposite day: Samhain!

As always we’ve gathered all of our related posts as well as those we found across the internet that we thought you might enjoy. Have a great time celebrating!

-Aryós Héngwis

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

The maidenly May Queen. The fecundity of the land. The sacred union of masculine and feminine.  It seemed a bit counterintuitive that in Ireland, Bealtaine, the month of May, is a month celebrating creativity in people who are well over the age of 50. Beataine is the time of year when crones rock!

All over Ireland there are arts activities aimed at those who are of pensionable age. For instance, the Hawkswell Theatre in Sligo is offering weekly acting classes in May for €30! That is completely affordable for someone on a state pension. All over Ireland there are arts activities that celebrate our creativity as we age.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
The Lover's Flame of Beltane

The air is warm and sweet. Life is budding all around and May flowers stretch across a field of freshly paint greenery, the faint scent of their perfume on gentle warm breeze. My heart beats rapidly in anticipation and I look out over sunlight space seeking your face. A stream of electrified energy moves up my spine awakening all of my senses as I feel the heat of your breath at the back of my neck. I turn to face you and two small suns flash with desire from the depths of eyes that have lovingly gazed upon my face in seasons past. Breath hangs in the air suspended in timelessness as I, the Maiden, reach out to you, my consort. Earth and Sun sigh into the release of consummate union and passion’s light burns with heat and intensity, as each lover’s flame becomes the singular flame that fuels the passion of Beltane. 

As the Wheel continues its cycle of light we turn our focus towards stimulating the dynamics of creation within. At the time of the Vernal Equinox we did the work of seeking balance and honoring the pause of that space strengthening an awareness illuminated by the potential that is held within the fertile space of manifest form. We found this space of balance within ourselves and opened in receipt of taking in more of the light continues to expand as it surrounds us outwardly. This opening to receiving the downpour of the light of growth was the preface to the union of the polarities at Beltane. 

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Is Beltane 'Bright Fire' or 'Bel's Fire'?

Is the festival Beltane named for an Irish god Bel?

Short answer: probably not.

The Keltic peoples of the Continent knew of a god Belenos (attested in various spellings) who, during the Roman period, was identified with Apollo.

Belenos clearly = *bel-, “shining, bright” + infixed -n-, (denotes lordship, mastery, or preeminence) + -os, (masculine singular ending). The “mastery infix,” interestingly, features in the names of a number of Keltic deities: among them Cernunnos, “Horned Lord” or “Preeminently Horned” and Epona, “Lady Horse” or “Preeminent Horse.” So Belenos is “Bright Lord” or “the Preeminently Bright.”

Did the Keltic-speaking peoples of Britain know such a god?

If so, the evidence is minimal, and there's none whatsoever that the Irish knew him. ('Beltane' is an Irish word in origin.) We cannot assume that the Insular Kelts worshiped every god that their Continental kin did.

So alas, Beltane is probably not “Bel's fire.”

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Maypole or Bonfire?

The Maypole and the Bonfire have long been the two ritual foci of Beltane celebration.

The logistical problem being that a ritual can't have two centers.

I remember running into this difficulty decades back while planning the community Beltane down at the old River Circle by the Mississippi. We wanted both a Maypole and a Bonfire, but (unless you want to burn the Maypole, which is wrong) they're mutually exclusive options and only one of them can be in the middle of the circle.

In the end we settled for a central bonfire with the Maypole off to the side of the circle. After the Maypole dance, as darkness drew in, people (of course) clustered around the Bonfire, leaving the poor Maypole deserted.

I.e. not really a satisfactory solution.

Historically speaking, the Maypole is a relative newcomer to the Beltane celebrations (there's no documentary evidence for it until the early modern period), while the Mayfire is clearly prehistoric (the name Beltane itself originally meant “bright fire”).

But the tension between Fire and Tree is more apparent than real. Our problem is trying to cram both hands into the same catskin glove.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Jön Upsal's Gardener
    Jön Upsal's Gardener says #
    Maddeningly, Ronald Hutton in Stations of the Sun (p. 233) doesn't give the title of the poem or the quote, only the author; Adda
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    I'm intrigued, Jon: which poem is that? Clearly time to to brush up my Middle English. So: we find Maypoles in England. We find Ma
  • Jön Upsal's Gardener
    Jön Upsal's Gardener says #
    And just as an aside, written evidence for the Maypole goes back to the 14th century. As it's entirely unlikely it was invented co
  • Jön Upsal's Gardener
    Jön Upsal's Gardener says #
    Actually, we call that Sumarmál. :-) And you're entirely correct; modern society and its artificial cycles of weekday-weekend is
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    A bat needs two wings to fly. Bwa ha ha.

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
The Hawthorn

Hawthorn

Hawthorn is a hedgerow plant that grows well even in poor soil and high winds.  It has white flowers in spring that are followed by dark red berries in the autumn.  Watch out for the spiky thorns though.

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  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis says #
    Rachel, thank you! Hawthorn is a friend of mine, and she had not told me a few things about herself that she has clearly told you.
An Encounter with the Green Man: Three Lessons to Inspire Your Beltane Magic

Twenty years ago on a Beltane Eve, I did my first ritual after moving to a rural home. In a secluded spot, surrounded by seven acres of undomesticated forest with only the stars and a single candle for illumination, I cast a circle and then called to the Green Man to come be with me in my Beltane magic. There was just me and my overpowering yearning to connect with the wild God energy of Nature. Sitting cross-legged with the moss-covered earth beneath me, I rocked back and forth, putting every ounce of my longings and love into my prayer and invocation, speaking out loud to the listening wilderness.   

When you do magic in ritual space, the extraordinary and inexplicable can happen. This was one of those experiences. To my utter shock, a man-sized being of light appeared between the trees and walked toward me. His inner core was a warm, golden white, with diffused beams extending outward, like moving, radiant candlelight. I don’t have words to describe His beauty and power. Even as I write this many years later, I feel the intensity of His stunning, delicious presence pushing against my flesh, both from the inside and the outside at once.

Yet, I am sorry to say, this spontaneous, magical appearance in physical reality terrified me. Although I had been working with spiritual beings through my dreams, ritual and channeling for a number of years, my contact had always been through inner images and voices, not direct, physical communion.  

I closed my eyes and asked the Green Man to forgive me my limitations and fears, and to come to me in the way I was used to, through visualization and words. And there He was inside of me, speaking to me, and gifting me with the information and insights that I needed at the time on my long journey of healing my relationship with God and men, and blossoming into my true, deep Self.

This Beltane experience has left an indelible imprint on me, with lessons that helped me truly understand and embrace the Green Man’s presence and gifts. Here are three of these lessons to inspire your Beltane magic with the Green Man.

1. The Green Man isn’t just a mythic being, a psychological construct or something we humans have made up. He is real, substantive and most accessible to us at Beltane when the veil between the worlds is thin.

This lesson brings up an important point of divergence in the pagan world. Some see the Gods and Goddesses as purely human creations that are the products of myths and reflections of our human psyche. Others understand these Divine beings as immense spiritual entities that we can encounter and come to know through our spiritual practices, dreams and human creative and mythic works.

When I did my Beltane ritual, I wasn’t drawing on any preconceived notions of the Green Man. I split my heart open and gave free voice to my untamed longings, and He came to me, unrestricted by my human projections, as a being of pure, radiant light. The raw, naked truth of this encounter had a profound impact on me: it primed me for real-time, unmediated communion with the Green Man, and other Gods and Goddesses, beyond my mythic and intellectual understandings of these things.

Consider how you conceive the Green Man. What do you already know about Him through myth and story? How do you understand and engage the Gods and Goddesses in your personal and ritual work?  How open are you to direct communion with the Green Man? Your answers to these questions will impact how you can experience and work with the Green Man in your Beltane magic.

2. The Green Man is the lover God who gives us whatever we need, in whatever form to help us grow and blossom as our true, deep Self.

Beltane magic has a sexual edge. The Green Man walks the land, firing up everything He touches with His wild, fertile life force. In Nature, plants, birds, bees and creatures, great and small, mingle, mate and give birth to a brilliant display of new life. Even the seemingly innocent, secular practice of the maypole has its roots in Beltane’s celebration of sexuality and fertility: the maypole is a giant phallic symbol arising from the fertile earth, and the dance interweaving the long ribbons represents sexual union and the creation of new life.

Yet communion with the Green Man isn’t so much about sex; instead His sacred purpose is to be the lover that awakens our desire and capacity to share our true beauty with the outer world. He does this by gifting us with what we deeply, truly need in our encounter with Him.

In my Beltane ritual, the Green Man was my gentle, patient lover. In the face of my fear and limitations, He enfolded me in His loving presence, took me to the shadow places in my inner landscape that held my wounding with God and men, and shared visions that helped me make peace with my personal story and the men who had hurt me. This was exactly what I needed to take my next step on my journey of soul.

The Green Man is your lover, and mine, and of every living thing on the Mother Earth. He makes love and life with each of us in accordance with our needs and capabilities. When you open your heart and your longings to the Green Man, He will come to you. This communion can be and feel sexual, but that’s only one expression of His lover presence. Whatever you need, in whatever form, He will give to you.
 
3. The Green Man gifts us with a positive, life-centered vision of God and masculinity, outside of the limitations and dictates of our collective human reality and personal wounding.

The Green Man is the guardian of the wild world, and the master of the mysteries of life and co-creation. He is a masculine presence unlike anything in our shared, mundane world: a being of light, love and life-making, feral, sensuous, and unencumbered by the restrictive dictates of our human society.
 
Our Beltane magic with the Green Man can take us up against the shadow places in our collective and individual psyche that hold our wounding in relation to God and men. He invites us into His wild-world dream, outside of the domesticating ways of our everyday reality that seek to suppress our primal, life-centered instincts, and entrap us in self-judgments and outer voices that tell us who we are and how to live our life. He shows us another face of God and masculinity that can heal the wounded places inside of us, and kindle a new freedom and relationship with the Green Man’s powers of light, love and life-making.

When the Green Man came to me that Beltane eve, He helped me mend a debilitating inner tear that separated me from God and men. I called out to Him from a pain, primal and ancient, that arose from my personal wounding and from the generations upon generations of women before me that had suffered at the hands of men. I wanted this separation to end, and to love God and men once more. But I didn’t know how to make right what was broken within me.

So the Green Man revealed to me His true nature: a being of light, beauty, love, compassion and patience. With His gentle guidance, He helped me see beyond my inner tear and limitations, and showed me the spiritual wasteland of the men who harm others, a desolate place severed from the love and life-centered ways of God and the sacred masculine. This Beltane night, the Green Man set me free, not only returning me to a positive relationship with God and my own instinctive, life-seeking nature, but also widening my love and compassion to include the wounded masculine.

However you choose to embrace the magic of Beltane — be it a walk amongst Nature’s feral, stunning fecundity, or to sit in ritual circle with the Green Man, or in whatever ways you honor this potent time of year — know that the Green Man’s wild-world dream of light, love and life-making is reaching out to you. Here He can help you step beyond the wounding and limitations of your personal story and our collective human reality to explore and embrace a new, positive relationship with God, the sacred masculine, and your own wild, life-centered nature.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Jane
    Jane says #
    So beautiful it made me cry, happy tears. Thank you so much x Beltane blessings to you and yours x
  • Karen Clark
    Karen Clark says #
    I am so glad Jane! You are very welcome! Happy Beltane to you!
  • Critter
    Critter says #
    Its a beautiful article, but I wonder if you might have overgeneralized a bit? I can't see the Green Man as you described him inte
  • Karen Clark
    Karen Clark says #
    Good comment, and hard to properly address in this small comment space. The post is meant to inspire rather than to speak to every
  • Thesseli
    Thesseli says #
    This was absolutely and utterly beautiful.

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